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Messages - narvin

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Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:37:25 AM »

The same thing can be said about extraction efficiency calculations. Efficiency calculations only reflect reality to point where the dry basis, fine grind (DBFG) or hot water extract (HWE) values used in the calculations reflect reality.  These values can change from malting to malting and season to season.   

And, country malt will give you the lot analysis for the specific bag of malt you bought.  Keep it in a sealed container and even moisture content shouldn't change much over time.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 22, 2014, 09:32:31 AM »

One does not need an IBU calculator either.  All one needs is a unit of measure because we have no idea if the alpha acid rating on the package accurately reflects that current state of the hops.  Amateur brewers used HBUs/AAUs long before IBU approximations became the rage. An HBU/AAU-based hopping rate combined with a boil length is no less valid than a calculated IBU value when it comes to repeatability, and hopping schedules based on HBUs/AAUs can be calculated in one's head.

It is less valid as a model of bitterness, though.  Whether or not the model is accurate given variances in hop age, batch size, and other factors is another question.  However, "why try to predict something that can never be 100% accurate" seems like a Luddite excuse to me.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Honey Smacks Beer??!?
« on: October 22, 2014, 08:00:36 AM »
If the flavor is "honey" and "smack" then there you go.

That second ingredient might not be approved for beer by the TTB...

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Honey Smacks Beer??!?
« on: October 22, 2014, 06:23:02 AM »
I put cereal in the mash once when I was young (stupid).

At best, you get nothing.  At worst, you get oil, preservatives, and regrets.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 21, 2014, 09:03:45 PM »
If there is one thing on which Kai Troester, Steven Deeds, and I agree, it's that real world numbers do not always correlate with the numbers produced by yeast calculators.  For example, how does a yeast calculator know that a culture is 59% viable after 2 months.  I have cultures that will remain viable for up to two years on slant.  I have other cultures that I have to subculture within six months or risk losing the culture.  The only thing that will teach a brewer how to pitch correctly is experience with a particular yeast culture. 

Yeast cultures are a little like atomic bombs in that one does not have to get all that close to the optimum calculated pitch rate in order for the culture to do its job correctly.  The difference between 200 billion cells and 300 billion cells is insignificant when making a starter because yeast cells grow exponentially at a rate of initial_cell_count x 2n, where n equals the time in minutes since exiting the lag phase divided by 90.  The difference between 200 billion cells and 400 billion cells is 200 x 21, which is 90 minutes of propagation time. 

Given two cultures of the same strain that are not drastically different in cell count (i.e., not several multiples), the limiting factors are always going to be dissolved oxygen, available carbon and nutrients, and initial yeast health.  A 1L starter that is pitched at the end of the deceleration phase will almost always perform as well if not slightly better than a 2L starter of the same strain that is allowed to ferment out.

Sure, the viability calculator is bunk.  The Wyeast one doesn't even have that feature. If you're buying new yeast to make a starter, the calc will give you 90%+ anyways.  For fresh yeast, viability isn't as important since a continuously aerated starter is where you're most likely to get the maximum yeast growth per liter of wort (i.e. an atomic bomb). 

Yeast cell growth in standard brewing conditions, with one initial aeration, is considerably less.  Even one fewer phase of reproduction can make a big difference in the final amount of yeast.  It will "do the job", but will you get the ester profile you want or the attenuation?

There's no problem with pitching less if you're doing it on purpose, but I wouldn't suggest that people new to the hobby pitch less than 0.75 mil/ml/Plato.  And at the homebrew level, you're almost always overestimating (at least, that's what I've found from doing cell counts). 

I would suggest using a yeast calculator because a repeatable process is the first step to learning what works.  Then you can adjust your SWAG from there.  It's better than dropping the bomb on your beer and hoping for the best.

Equipment and Software / Re: Lauter Tun Sizing
« on: October 21, 2014, 03:46:14 PM »
I am thinking about making a tun for fly sparging 25-30 lbs of grain at a time.
I have a 15gal Polyethylene (#2)  jug 13.5 in dia. x 25 in tall.
is that to tall a height to width ratio?

I think the size is okay.  30 lbs of grain and water at 1.5 qt/lb is ~ 13.5 gal. Palmer says that a pound of dry grain takes up 42 fl. oz, so the grain bed itself would be 9.8 gallons, or 16" deep in your tun.  This is deep enough, since deeper gives you more uniform lautering, but not too deep to cause problems.

I'd be concerned about the PET though.  I see references to 140F being the maximum working temperature that's considered safe for food applications.

Beer Recipes / Re: Helles Bock for Pro-Am Competition
« on: October 21, 2014, 03:22:46 PM »
I'm going to give the standard advice.  Pitch twice as much yeast (2 vials in a 3L starter), and cool the wort to 44 before pitching.  Let it rise to 50-52.

YMMV, but it's a lot easier to pitch below your fermentation temperatures and get a clean lager than to pitch warm and try to reduce the temperature by the time the yeast starts fermenting.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Yeast starter time question
« on: October 21, 2014, 12:10:05 PM »

Please do me a favor and stop using yeast calculators.  In my humble opinion, they are one step above toilet paper when it comes to growing yeast cultures.  No yeast strain that I have ever used performs as these calculators would lead one to believe.  Experience is the best teacher when it comes to growing cultures, as no two strains perform exactly the same when pitched into the same composition and gravity wort.

With that said, one needs to determine where one is and where one needs to be when growing a culture. 

Is that not the point of a yeast calculator?

You can't blindly input numbers and expect every beer to come out perfect.  But for determining your pitching rate, it's a good starting point before you start adjusting the other variables (oxygenation, increasing/decreasing pitching rate, etc).  And when I've done cell counts, they haven't been so far off that it makes using it as a guide worthless.

Equipment and Software / Re: Gamma pet food containers
« on: October 17, 2014, 10:27:15 AM »
I used to use one.  The size, shape, and material (HDPE) are good for brewing.  My least favorite part was cleaning around and under the gamma seal, since beer and gunk can get in there.  I ended up taking it off entirely and using a bucked lid, which fit pretty well.  Also, the gamma seal isn't airtight, but that's not a problem if you're only using it as a primary.

I also wouldn't recommend carrying it when full.  10 gallons is heavy and the handles are hard to grip.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: HELP: WLP540 Abbey IV Attenuation
« on: October 17, 2014, 07:30:17 AM »
I also start cultures from a bottle at 1.20 or so, with other starters being 1.035-1.040.  I generally don't have attenuation problems, especially using WLP530, but 540 was one in the past I've noticed this issue with.  It produces attenuation in the mid 70s, as advertised, but not the 88% that Rochefort gets.  If I'm going to do steps, most of the time I'd rather reuse the yeast from a batch of beer and get two beers.

Re: Beersmith,  he's using degrees Plato for the apparent attenuation numbers.  It seems like ProMash does this as well.  Plato and specific gravity are similar, and measure similar things, but they aren't linear and start to differ more at higher gravities.  Degrees plato is extract percentage by weight, and specific gravity is a measure of density.  I'm not really sure which one is more appropriate, though.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: HELP: WLP540 Abbey IV Attenuation
« on: October 17, 2014, 06:20:58 AM »
That makes sense.

So, have you done a 2 step starter with a higher gravity wort for the second step?  I might try that next time I want to go straight to a very high gravity batch(1.090+).  Of course, there's a certain point where it's just as easy to make a lower gravity batch of beer as your "starter".

Ingredients / Re: Is gypsum gypsum?
« on: October 17, 2014, 06:15:37 AM »
Um, just remember....lead, arsenic, and cyanide are completely natural and organic. You decide.

Good point!  It does pay to look for "food grade".

The Pub / Re: I now officially hate UPS
« on: October 15, 2014, 06:31:02 PM »

You can't tax gifts. 

False, but there is an annual exclusion amount for gifts.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: HELP: WLP540 Abbey IV Attenuation
« on: October 15, 2014, 06:26:30 PM »

A lot of brewers make the mistake of brewing a big beer with yeast grown in 1.040 gravity wort.  Pitching a culture grown in 1.040 wort into 1.087 wort seriously stresses the yeast cells.   A better approach is to pitch the vial into 1L of 1.030 gravity wort, wait twelve to eighteen hours, chill and decant the supernatant (a.k.a the clear liquid that lies above the slurry), and then pitch the slurry into 3 liters of 1.060 wort.  Using this process, we are also increasing osmotic pressure with each step.

There are no hard and fast rules, but I would say that in most cases the mistake is making a high gravity starter.

The starter was well within the ratio of growth (4X at most). The gravity was low, the way every yeast lab propagates yeast.  The idea is that you can pitch the correct number of cells, grown in ideal conditions (LOW GRAVITY WORT).

Whether or not this is always true is another deal.  540 is one of the few where I've had any problem at all with starter grown yeast.  However, I would never encourage someone to make high gravity starters.  But obviously certain yeasts benefit more than others from growing in brewing conditions.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Bru'n water PH using German Melanoiden
« on: October 15, 2014, 06:14:03 PM »
Can you post your water profile and the recipe?

Have you tried Kai's spreadsheet? A lot of Martin's work was based on experiments done by Kai, and yet I often get different results from the two.

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